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BioQuick Publisher Discusses Clinical Adoption of LC-MS/MS at JASIS 2015 Analytical Instrument Conference in Japan, Largest Such Meeting in Asia and Perhaps in World; Record 25,000 Attend This Year’s Three-Day Meeting Just Outside Tokyo

BioQuick Editor & Publisher Michael D. O’Neill had the distinct honor of being asked to give a presentation at this year’s Japan Analytical Scientific Instruments Show (JASIS 2015), held September 2 though September 4, in Chiba, Japan, a city located just outside Tokyo. Unbeknownst to many, this annual analytical instruments show is by far the largest held in Asia, and it is perhaps now the largest held in the world, as Pittcon, a U.S.-based conference that once held that status has had somewhat diminished attendance in recent years. Estimates of this year’s JASIS attendace were on the order of 25,000, the largest ever. There were an estimated 500 exhibitors and approximately 1,500 booths. The many exhibitors included Shimadzu, ThermoFisher Scientific, Agilent Technologies, Bruker, Perkin-Elmer Japan, Hitachi High-Tech Science Corporation, JEOL Ltd., Sciex, and Merck, among many others. Some 360 topics in New Technology were presented by exhibitors and approximately 50 conferences were conducted by academic and research organizations. The conference was jointly organized by the Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association and the Japan Scientific Instruments Association. Leaders of these two organizations are Gon-emon Kurihara, President, Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association, President and Representative Director, JEOL, Ltd.; and Hideto Yazawa, Chairman, Japan Scientific Instruments Association, Chairman, Dalton Co., Ltd. As an eye-witness to this incredibly well-organized event, I can only say “hats off” to these leaders who really made the incredible happen. Interestingly, to this first-time visitor to Japan, almost all the conference presentations were delivered in Japanese, with just a few, like mine, delivered in English and simultaneously translated into Japanese over headsets. There was no translation in the other direction and there did not seem much need for this as Japanese speakers by far dominated the attendance. My particular presentation was on “Market Trends in the Clinical Adoption of LC-MS/MS Technology.” Although I did considerable research to develop my discussion, the most salient points were probably garnered from my discussions with two prominent clinical laboratory directors in the U.S.—Ravinder Singh, Ph.D., Director of the Mayo Clinic Endocrine Lab in Rochester, Minnesota, and William Clarke, Ph.D., Head of the Clinical Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Key points, I think, were that much of current clinical testing is carried out via immunoassays, either competitive immunoassays, or sandwich immunoassays, and that the approximate current global market for these assays is approximately $20 billion.

Dr. Singh stressed that competitive immunoassays, which tend to target small molecules to which only one antibody can be bound, are far inferior in a number of ways to sandwich immunoassays, which generally target bigger molecules and molecules that can bind two antibodies. This ability to bind two antibodies results in a number of superior characteristics for sandwich assays, relative to competitive assays.

Dr. Singh maintained that it seemed quite likely that LC-MS/MS assays would ultimately replace the inferior competitive immunoassays, but he also noted this only represents 10% of the current immunoassay market, with sandwich assays dominating at 90%.

Because existing sandwich assays tend to be fairly good, Dr. Singh does not believe there is presently a driving force to replace them, as there is to replace the competitive immunoassays.

On the other hand, Dr. Singh and Dr. Clarke agreed that in developing assays for new targets, there would be a distinct advanctage for the LC-MS/MS approach over both types of immunoassays as the cost and development time for new LC-MS/MS assays are significantly less than those for immunoassays.

My talk included examples of recent technical advances that appear to be accelerating the advance of LC-MS/MS into the clinic, but also provided cautionary notes about the technical complexity of the LC-MS/MS technology and lack of automation, as well as other problems, that currently stand in the way of the kind of turn-key operation that clinical operations typically require.

Personally, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to both Dr. Singh and Dr. Clarke for the invaluable help they gave to me both freely and cheerfully. I hope I represented them well.

I would also like to abundantly thank my long-time Japanese colleague Yoshimitsu Obata. Obata-san is the founder and head of BioAssociates, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) (http://www.bioassociates.com/m/sub/about_us.html), and creator of the web site BioMarket.jp, which focuses exclusively on Japanese Life Science & Biotech Businesses. BioMarket.jp (http://biomarket.jp/) also selects a subset of BioQuick-published stories for translation into Japanese and transmission to the Japanese audience. Obata-san and I met years ago when both us were working for the famous genome company Applied Biosystems (ABI) and we have been close friends and associates ever since.

I would also like to highlight my great pleasure in having time to chat at length with Gon-emon Kurihara, one of the meeting organizers. He is a truly visionary scientist who has held numerous high-level positions around the world, and yet he seemed quite happy to talk to a relative lightweight like myself, and I appreciated his kindness very much.

There are many, many more to thank for the relative success of my presentation, as I had virtually everyone I know review the talk during its development. But adequate thanks to all would just take too long.
However, one person should definitely not go overlooked and that is Judith Gosse, the professional graphic artist, who transformed what I had written into something that really looked very good. I would truly have been lost without her help.

Thanks to everyone who made this wonderful first-time trip to Japan possible. I hope to get there again, but it was certainly a “once in a lifetime” experience.

And one final highlight is that I was able to briefly reunite with my Japanese roommate from graduate school at Duke in North Carolina after almost 40 years. His name is Yasumitsu Kinoshita and he is President of Kinoshita International (http://www.kinoshita-intl.co.jp), which is headquartered in Kyoto and Tokyo, and imports wines from around the world, particularly exquisite Madeiras from Portugal. The company’s motto is “Passion for Good Life with Good Wine.”

Maybe a wine booth should be considered for next year’s JASIS conference.

One important final note is that very soon, the entire Power Point Presentation given at the JASIS 2015 meeting will be made available here on BioQuick and also on Obata-san's BioMarket.jp site. These postings will include all the references that were glossed over at the end and will also provide URL links directly to the many journal articles and abstracts that are referenced. I think readers will find this service a very useful addition and many of the references are very current.